Friday, September 26, 2008

Red and yellow and pink and green...

Do not, for the sake of all things good and holy, buy your children this:

and then leave them for any amount of time while you and your spouse are trying to have a discussion, ignoring the giggles and loud happy sounds. The IKEA person who named this bucket of beads must have been gifted with both keen perception and a good sense of humor.

If you do let your children have these, unsupervised, and your children are anything like ours, this will be the net result:

Though I followed the rule of don't let them have more than you're willing to clean up, and, as you can see, the container is still pretty full, it took forever to clean up all those little beads.

They thought cleaning up was almost as fun as trashing the joint. Plus it's so cool to see those veins stick out on Mommy and Daddy's foreheads...

Ah, to be a kid again.

Speaking of kids, Mike has been trying out the racquet sport of squash against the wall in that same empty living room, and is considering adding stripes and a tin (or something like that) to make it a real court. It's a good thing I have furniture on the way to dissuade him from any remodelling.

Poor guy. He sure does miss racquetball.

Until the living room furniture arrives, here is our seating arrangement:

Not bad, not bad,maybe a little too college dorm for me, but definitely not enough to halt squash tournaments and bead attacks.

We bought the soon-to-come living room furniture from a South African who works for Reuters, has been here for the grand total of 7 months, and is being shipped out by his company again. He was super nice and made it clear when we were setting up a time to go over that he expected us to stay for an hour for a drink and chat while we looked over the goods. It was facinating to talk with this white South African who is a huge admirer of Nelson Mendella, to talk with him about the current troubles in his homeland, and, of course, the US presidential election, which is on the top of the news every day. Everyone wants to discuss it with us when they find out where we're from. After all, what happens in America affects the world.

Back to our little portion of the world; with the largely transient population of this area it has been pretty easy to find good stuff for our house. People being transferred, moving back home after their contract is up, and far too many folks are being kicked out of their villas when their leases expire, not through any fault of their own. The law says that rent may only be increased 7%. The market has more than doubled in price in the past two years, so rather than settling for a paltry 7%, landlords get rid of their current tenants and put in new ones, charging whatever the market will bear. This works out to hundreds of thousands of dirhams of additional profit with each property, at the cost of a little bit of paint and interviewing prospective tenants.

Hopefully the laws will change, for the sake of the residents, what can't help feeling not jsut inconvenient but also rather hurt by the cavalier treatment. Laws change her all the time, and the sheiks of the ruling family seem quite wise, though sometimes the laws need some time to translate from intent to practice. The 7% limit on rent increase was intended to protect the tenant from unfair rent increases, so I am hopeful the next law will address the unintended consequence of making people have to move all the time, making them a sort of new brand of desert nomads. We shall see. Hopefully before our lease expires in a year.

One of the views from our balcony.

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